Beachgoers circling the Balboa Peninsula for an often elusive parking space this summer will pay more to park when they finally snag a spot.
The Newport Beach City Council voted 4 to 2 on Tuesday night to approve an ordinance to raise parking meter rates citywide. The ordinance also gives the city manager the discretion to increase parking rates by 10% each year.
The city has been charging 50 cents to $2.50 an hour for on- and off-street metered parking. Rates at 98% of the meters will go up by 25 cents an hour or less, according to city staff estimates.
More than 2,000 metered spaces will jump in price to $1.75 per hour from $1.50.
The largest increase, to $3 from $2.50, will affect 65 spaces for the third hour of parking.
The new prices for off-street metered parking went into effect Wednesday. On-street parking rates will go up Aug. 13.
Metered spots in most areas of the city charge people to park between 8 a.m. and 6 p.m. daily.
Council members Scott Peotter and Kevin Muldoon voted against the rate increase. Councilman Marshall "Duffy" Duffield was absent.
Peotter said he worries that the increase will make parking in residential areas more attractive to visitors.
"This is a great card of income the city has to offset the cost of visitors," he said. "I don't want to force people out of the parking lots and into the neighborhoods."
The new parking meter fees are expected to generate about $924,000 in annual revenue for the city.
The increases are intended to pass on a share of costs to city visitors to "contribute to the additional public safety effort on the peninsula," according to a city staff report. The City Council recently approved its annual budget that includes an $800,000 expenditure to hire three police officers and a sergeant to increase patrols on the Balboa Peninsula.
Newport Beach Police Department statistics show that the majority of crime and nuisance problems on the peninsula occur late at night on weekends, when guests do not have to pay for on-street parking.
While some residents have questioned the need for more law enforcement in the area, police officials said the move will help restore staffing levels that were slashed during budget reductions in 2007.
The increased parking revenue also will help fund street and beach maintenance, the purchase of lots for off-street parking and neighborhood enhancements, the city says.
This is the first parking meter price increase since 2010, except in Balboa Village, which has seasonal rates.